ABA Journal: Florida rules prohibiting uncertified lawyers from advertising as specialists are struck down.

David Hudson at the ABA Journal covers the two recent wins in Florida: Searcy v. The Florida Bar and Rubenstein v. The Florida Bar.

Clay Calvert, a First Amendment scholar at the University of Florida, says that “Searcy is a great example of applying Central Hudson with teeth. Judge Hinkle demanded proof, not suspect speculation or convenient conjecture, that the public will be misled by representations of expertise and specialization. Frankly, the term board-certified used by the Florida Bar seems far more appropriate for the medical professional than the legal one. The Searcy law firm does specialize in the areas it claimed, regardless of whether it was board-certified,” Calvert says.

Searcy v. The Florida Bar: Victory in challenge to Florida specialization ban.

In Searcy v. The Florida Bar, the Northern District of Florida held that the Florida Bar violated the First Amendment when it prohibited the law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley from advertising its specialization and expertise in mass torts and other areas of law. This is our third First Amendment victory against Florida’s lawyer-advertising rules.

ABA Journal: Florida Bar restrictions on lawyer ads which cite past results is struck down by federal court.

David Hudson at the ABA Journal covers the victory in Rubenstein v. The Florida Bar.

The case reflects the Florida Bar’s long-standing ambivalence toward lawyer advertising, which the U.S. Supreme Court held in its 1977 ruling in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona to be commercial speech entitled to protection under the First Amendment. Since then, Florida has maintained one of the strictest regimes for regulating lawyer advertising of any state in the country. In recent years, for instance, Florida was the only state with an outright prohibition against lawyers including information about past results in their advertising. Other states generally followed the lead of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which impose no blanket restrictions on references to past results, although six states (Missouri, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia) require references to past results to be accompanied by a disclaimer.

ABA Journal: Firm challenges Florida Bar over website ad limits.

From the ABA Journal:

Attorneys who blog about tort reform, damages caps, insurance companies and other hot-button civil justice issues may find themselves at odds with the Florida Bar and its rules regulating attorney advertisements. According to a recent lawsuit filed in federal court, even President Abraham Lincoln—who advertised his legal services as a lawyer in newspapers in the early 1850s—would run afoul of the state’s rules.

On the Media: The upside of legal advertising.

On the Media‘s Bob Garfield explores lawyer advertising and its regulation:

Greg Beck: The ad is just the first contact between the lawyer and a potential client and a lawyer has no incentive to bring a case that cannot win. … [T]he next thing that happens is … the client contacts the lawyer and the lawyer evaluates the strength of the claim. If the lawyer at that point decides that the potential client has no case, then there’s been no harm done.